Syracuse 56, St. Francis (NY) 50 — What we learned

Syracuse had a late scare against St. Francis, but ultimately pulled out a 56-50 victory. Here are a few thoughts from the game:

Fair or bust

This team will only go as far as CJ Fair will take them, and that was evident after this game. Fair started the game shooting 2 for 9, and went the entire second half without a field goal. That is Fair’s lowest number of field goals since SU’s game against Colgate in the 2012-13 season, nearly a year ago. Without support from the Preseason ACC Player of the Year, the rest of Syracuse looked stagnant. “Our offense was non-existent tonight,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “It was not good.” The only bright spot was DaJuan Coleman, who was a perfect 5-5 from the field. Unfortunately his suspect defense against the St. Francis bigs forced Boeheim to bench him for most of the second half. “He’s got to be better down there,” Boeheim said. “I didn’t think our other centers were that much better but they were a little better, and at the end they were better.”

» Related: Syracuse has room for improvement after 4-0 start

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Coleman’s defense kept him on the bench

Syracuse misses Triche, MCW

We knew this year’s backcourt would be a work in progress, but Orange fans are beginning to realize how much this team misses the solid guard play of  last year’s starters, Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams. The Orange only had eight assists the entire game, and half of them came from the bench. Throughout the game, both Tyler Ennis and Michael Gbinije struggled to make plays against an aggressive St. Francis defense. “He’s a freshman, he’s got a lot of work ahead of him,” Boeheim said of Ennis. “He will play better but he will have games like this.”

Where are the freshman?

By the time conference play rolls around, Boeheim normally has his eight-man rotation set. What we did not expect was to see that rotation set four games into the season, and it looks like most of the freshman will be left out. Freshmen BJ Johnson, Tyler Roberson and Ron Patterson spent the entire game on the bench against St. Francis. Moving forward, we can expect Ennis to be the only freshman to get significant playing time. Still, Boeheim has previously shelved star freshman only to unleash them on the world the very next year. Dion Waiters and Carter-Williams are the latest to go from being on the bench freshman year to a NBA lottery pick by the end of their sophomore years. The better question is, which freshman will it be this time?

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